Trump’s newest idea. Upgrade poverty to the “shop from home” experience.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Mick Mulvaney...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Let’s get one thing straight right off of the bat. There is no way this idea could have originated from Trump himself. That’s for the simple reason that it concerns poor people, and everybody knows that Trump cares about poor people about as much as I care about the life expectancy of a bed bug, except when I have one on my pillow then I want the shortest life expectancy possible for the little bugger. But then again, considering Trump’s feelings for poor people, maybe this did come from him.

The Washington Post is reporting that The Trump administration has come up with a new solution to the problem of rising costs in the food stamp program. I can’t be sarcastic enough to do this idea justice, so I’ll just let Mick Mulvaney tell you from his own dumb mouth, and let your sarcasm freak flag fly proudly;

“What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part — not all, part — of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash,” Mulvaney said. “It lowers the cost to us because we can buy [at wholesale prices] whereas they have to buy it at retail. It also makes sure they’re getting nutritious food. So we’re pretty excited about that.”

This was a stupid comparison for Mick Mulvaney to make for a couple of reasons. First up is the optics. Imagine lower middle class and middle class people, who receive no government assistance, who squeeze every quarter in food money until the eagle screams, thinking that “welfare queens” are getting Blue Apron boxes delivered to their assisted housing in semi trailers. Think that might gin up some feverish anti poverty sentiment among Trump’s base voters? Personally, I do, and I think it’s exactly why Mulvaney chose that comparison, to poison the sentiment well. Second, the article goes on to explain that critics lined up starting at midnight to gleefully call bullshit on Mulvaney, pointing out that food stamps actually provides about $1.37 for each meal for America’s poorest diners, while Blue Apron averages $10 per serving.

Look, I don’t dispute that buying in bulk is cheaper, hell, that concept is the golden goose behind places like Sam’s Club and Costco. But it does beg the question that if the concept is so great for feeding poor people, why isn’t the same concept already in operation for using the bulk purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate mass purchase discounts for the most common of prescription drugs? Any hands GOP?

Unfortunately for Mulvaney, I’m old enough to have a perfect response to this latest government incursion into the idea of feeding the poor directly, and it comes doewn to two simple words. “Government cheese.” A long time ago, the government got the brilliant idea of alleviating hunger for the poor by using a surplus of moo juice to make cheese, and ship it directly as food assistance. The resulting product could be used to construct bomb shelters, and was so bad that starving people in third world disaster zones wouldn’t touch the stuff with fire tongs.Forget police brutality, government cheese alone could have started inner city unrest.

Look, like a lot of Americans, I went through a rough patch when I was younger, with a wife and kids, and did a tour on the food stamp program. This was back about 30 years ago, when the program was properly funded. And while my family was properly fed, we weren’t chowing down on rib eye steaks every night. I shudder to think what the current program provides.

But there is one more aspect of this latest Trump boondoggle that I want to go into. As with most things in this life, the devil is in the details. Who decides what contents go into these glorified CARE packages? Do recipients get a sheet of paper, or a web page with available products, and are allotted a certain number of “check marks” based on circumstances that allow them to choose what is delivered, or does a government worker just throw shit willy-nilly into a box and ship it off, one size fits all? If it’s the latter, the program will fail, since it makes no sense to ship peanut butter to a family where a member has peanut allergies. And personally, I’d starve to death before I ate broccoli or asparagus, regardless if it was free or not.

To close, I will drive my point home with this final irony. Under the tutelage of the GOP controlled congress, they have done everything in their power to starve the “meals on wheels” program for poor disabled Americans to death. And now, they want to turn the entire food stamp program into a bastardized, cook-it-yourself version of “meals on wheels.” What the fuck is up with that?

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